Potrero Hill and Dogpatch feel distinctly different from each other. Dogpatch has more warehouses, while Potrero Hill has more old school SF architecture. Dogpatch is mostly flat, and we wouldn’t be surprised if someone proposed a gondola system for Potrero Hill at some point in the past. Despite all of this, these neighborhoods are neighbors, or even occupy the same space depending on who you ask, and they both have a lot of great places to eat and drink. These are our favorites.
You know Hermione’s bag in Harry Potter, the one that’s magically bottomless and holds clothes, a tent, and probably the Heart of the Ocean diamond? If we had that bag, we’d put places like Chez Maman in there just in case we ever needed them. This spot is always packed and with good reason - they serve French comfort food here that’s good for everything from weeknight dates and low-key dinners to quiet Sundays when you just need to space out and dive head first into a bowl of French onion soup.
When you walk by Umi, one of the first things you notice from the sidewalk window is the kitchen. Usually watching the chefs is reserved for people at the bar, but here the view does a good job of drawing people inside this tiny place. On a nice night, sitting on the patio is the way to go, but the other 312 days a year, the small, dark dining room does the trick. We especially like the nigiri and sashimi, but if you’re in the mood for rolls, you can’t go wrong with the Golden Dragon roll with crab, avocado, salmon, and lemon.
Every time you flip passed Dancing With The Stars, you feel a little empty inside because you wish you could move like that, but you chicken out every time you think about taking dancing classes. Build your courage up with a few visits to The Ramp. This bar by the water looks more like it should be in Miami than SF, but it doesn’t matter because on Saturdays it gets swamped with people salsa dancing.
Plow is easily one of our favorite (if not our absolute favorite) breakfast places in SF. It’s one of those places where seeing a line outside is as expected as seeing people making food inside, but everything here is good enough that you’ll forget about that time you said you’d never wait for eggs unless mimosas were involved (which you can get here too if you were really serious). Go for the plow plate with eggs, potatoes, pancakes, and your choice of meat - you’ll be set for a while after that.
If eating is less about having a religious experience at Plow and more about getting ready for the day, Cracked And Battered is a solid choice for breakfast. They have things like eggs, pancakes, and fried chicken, but if you’re really hungry, the cabbage fried rice is a good order and comes with two eggs and a piece of boneless fried chicken that’s really good. The buckwheat pancakes are also a solid option, especially if you’re with people who avoid gluten at all costs.
Farley’s is a coffee shop that feels like it was ripped out of a Chuck Lorre script. It’s one of those places where you can always hang out and there are people on their laptops waiting for a group of four unlikely friends to come in and drive the episode’s plot forward in some hilarious way. The staff is friendly, there are a lot of seats, and if you forgot your laptop, there are a ton of magazines for sale in the back that you can pretend to read as the comic relief character bursts through the door to tell the other three how a squirrel locked him out of his apartment.
Ruby Wine Merchant is a tiny shop on 18th street that specializes in natural wines. It feels like you’re in your cool friend’s living room (you know the one), except instead of vintage records organized by year, it’s full of wine that the super friendly owners can tell you everything about as you’re drinking a glass. In case they don’t know something about a certain wine, you can come back on Fridays from 5-7pm when they do tastings with some of the winemakers who explain why wine is awesome, along with other mysteries of the universe.
Not every night is an occasion to hit up the best spot in town for whatever it is you’re in the mood for. We all have rent to pay, electricity to keep flowing, and work-appropriate athletic wear to get peer pressured into buying. Because of that, we all eat meals that aren’t going to win any awards, but are for sure better than what we can do at home. For this, we go to Piccino. The salads are good, the pizza is solid, and this place is large enough where you won’t have to fight someone for a table.
If it’s time for your bi-monthly office Happy Hour, heading to School Night with your coworkers is a fun option. This spot is inside the Pearl event space and is only open Monday through Thursday. It’s first and foremost a bar, but they serve food you and your deskmate can split up while you discuss quitting your jobs to start your dream company making party confetti in the shape of emojis.
Serpentine is one of our favorite spots for brunch - partially because their Benedicts, donut holes, and toasts are great, but also because they take reservations. It’s a solid backup to Plow, and if you sleep through brunch hours, you can come here for dinner too.
This is San Francisco’s most famous brewery, i.e. you’re here to drink beer, but food trucks come here sometimes too. The taproom is in a large warehouse with sports projected on a huge screen in the back and a bunch of picnic tables to sit at - when you tell your friends you want to come here to hang out, drink beer, and watch sports, it’s a very accurate statement. They do beers flights if someone you’re with carries a notebook with “Cicerone” printed on the front, but for everyone else, there serve pints too. Besides the usual suspects, they also have some specialty beers that you can only get at the brewery, so maybe your beer nerd friend gets the last laugh after all.
Some bars are beyond gimmicks, and Bloom’s Saloon is one of them. It’s a little too clean to be called a dive, but anyone who frequents dark old bars and their requisite pool tables will feel right at home here. You’re not stopping in for fancy cocktails and a story about “this one bar we went to,” you come here because you want to catch up with friends over a beer or a few well drinks.
No one’s hobbies on Hinge include “waiting in line for pastries,” so if you’re going to do it, they better be well worth it. The croissants at Neighbor Bakehouse aren’t enough on their own to merit listening to two episodes of Serial in the rain (mostly because there are other places in SF with phenomenal croissants), but if you pair them with pretty much anything else here, it’s justified. From savory stuff like kimchi toast to sweet things like German coffee cake and the raspberry hazelnut twice-bakeds (our personal favorite), it’s hard to go wrong.
This place is Dogpatch’s answer to Southern Pacific Brewing. Aside from the main tap room, there’s a massive side room with bleacher seating and a kitchen turning out things like a breakfast sandwich perfect for early drinking. Magnolia is made for you to show up at with a crew, so go ahead and start a group message rounding people up. Maybe see if you can collectively try all the beers they have on tap.
Triple Voodoo is a small brewery and taproom that puts out a bunch of interesting beers. This is the place to come if you want to try a lot of things, but don’t want to end up drinking in a building large enough to host a New Year’s Eve ball. Grab a few seats at the bar if you want the person behind the counter to talk you through what you’re ordering, and get to it. Try an Imperial Mocha Shake made with coffee and chocolate nibs or the Anxiety pilsner.
Besharam is an Indian restaurant with poppy, bright murals and cocktails with names like “Wake Me Up Before You Go Goa.” But beyond those things, the food here is really good, with dishes like blue cheese naan and mozzarella-stuffed rice balls. It’s a solid place to come with a few friends and try most of the menu, but if you’re one of those people who hates communal tables, maybe call ahead and ask for a reservation at one of their few four tops.
This place is owned by the same people as Chez Maman and they use the same giant whiteboard-by-the-door reservation system, but instead of serving French food, Papito serves Mexican. We like the short rib tacos, but you can’t go wrong with classic al pastor either. No matter how much you told yourself you wouldn’t eat them, don’t skip out on chips here because their salsas are great.
When you dream about opening your own bar, you probably talk about the weird quirks you’d include to make it different and, more importantly, yours. At Third Rail, that quirk is their homemade jerky. There are plenty of flavors to choose from, but we like the red rye jerky with coffee and the candy version with brown sugar. If you just want something to snack on, they do shot, beer, and jerky combos for $10. Aside from the tasty meat taffy, the cocktails here are worth coming for on their own, like the gin Godzilla with nori and sesame and the Comeback with mezcal.
One great thing about Sunflower Vietnamese is that the portions are gigantic - if you walk in here and each person orders something off the menu, there won’t be any table left to put dishes down on. Aside from that, a lot of the food has a build-it-yourself component, from the Vietnamese crepes you roll up in rice paper to our favorite, the flaming beef and prawns that you make lettuce wraps out of. This place gets packed with families and older couples, but if you’re neither of those you won’t feel out of place here at all - it’s just that kind of spot where everyone shows up.